Don’t miss a bloom

Occasionally I hear complaints that such and such did not bloom this year, and could I please explain why? Of course there are times when a plant is sited improperly so that it doesn’t get sufficient sunlight, or a tree is over fertilized so that it grows an abundance of foliage at the expense of flowers. Often, I suspect that the person simply didn’t go out of doors on the four days when the peonies were blooming, though no one has ever confessed that this is a possibility, and I suspect they never will.

I have a variegated leaf Chinese dogwood (Cornus kousa ‘Samaritan’) that grows vigorously without a lick of fertilizer, yet it has never bloomed. Others planted nearby have more sun, or less, and all bloom heavily late in May. The conditions for this dogwood are neither too wet or dry, so I haven’t a clue why it doesn’t flower. Fortunately, there is plenty else blooming in the garden at this time so that this puzzle doesn’t concern me at all. If you are one who loses sleep wondering why, then I suggest you plant daylilies (above) or coneflowers (Echinacea ‘Coconut Lime’, below) that go on for months.

Most of the shrub roses (OsoEasy Cherry Pie rose, below) flower intermittently in my garden from mid May through October, and if the weather cooperates (no blizzards or Arctic freezes) there might be a few blooms remaining on Thanksgiving Day. I recently read a garden writer whining that her shrub roses were disappointing, blooming only once in the spring, and not again. Her objective was to praise some heirloom rose, which could be a fine rose, but I’m afraid some liberties were taken to illustrate the point. So long as the rose is given nearly full sun there will be flowers beginning in May or June, followed by a period of rest, and then blooms off and on for months. Only a lack of sunlight will prevent it.

The argument could be made that the day after day sameness is a bore, and that splendid blooms for a few weeks, or even a few days are superior to flowers that persist for months. I will admit that I have a fondness for the native dogwood and Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia, below), both of which flower for only a couple weeks, and if I am forced to choose, either will be favored rather than crapemyrtles that bloom for months. There is no shame in favoring either, and I have hedged my bets by planting more than one of each in my garden. 

I want to be certain that with a few rainy days I won’t miss a thing!


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